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The Five Ways I Beat Writer's Block - Overcoming writers block for Muslim writers

The Five Ways I Beat Writer’s Block

I have been writing since I was eight or nine. I recognized it as my main passion at the age of eleven or twelve. I’ve been outlining stories long before I knew outlining was really a thing.

Even with pages of frenzied notes and elaborate scenes playing in my head, for years I’d made a habit of not lifting a pen to write it all out until true inspiration hit – even if it happened only once or twice every few months.  

The result of waiting forever to be fired up?

Nothing other than countless, quarter-filled notebooks and reading every story that sounded even remotely like mine with a twinge of envy.

Fast forward to my life now as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). My personal time is always seen as flexible at best, and nonexistent at worst. However, I’m more consistent with my writing than I ever have been, and I make sure to be inspired every evening at seven.

Just over a year ago, I made a commitment to my goal of being a writer: specifically, a novelist.  That simple declaration lifted a decade’s worth of mental fog. The path toward real progress on paper (or Word doc.) rolled out in front of me.

Since that day, I’ve written out the first draft of a novel that’s been in my head for the better part of fifteen years. It’s a fifty-chaptered gem that I’m currently polishing a little more each day. I’ve also submitted shorter works. Twice I actually won something.

Perhaps it’s not full speed ahead, but it’s a lot further than where I used to be. I’m loving the process and myself more because of it.

With all of that said, here are a few things that helped me out of my writer’s rut…

1 – Take it seriously

I didn’t get serious about making space in my life for writing until I realized just how essential writing was to my core self.

Years of treating it like an afterthought – and putting it on par with several other creative hobbies I could pick up and leave off for months with no issue – had left me feeling inauthentic and incomplete.

I like a lot of creative outlets, but writing is my soul food.

2 – Make it necessary

I wanted to finally get my voice out there, anywhere.

To do that, I ditched my nervousness about sharing my work and began stalking down opportunities.

Some were hits, others were misses. Either way, I’m happy anytime I have the nerve to put myself out there.

3 – Drop your fears

You’ll never know how well anything might turn out if you don’t step into a challenge with two feet and try your best.

To be a writer, all you must do is write.

You don’t have to win a ton of awards, have your book turned into a movie, or even be interviewed by Oprah (that all would be fabulous, though). Initially, your main job is to get the words out – every day if possible.

4 – Don’t get manic

These three words are a personal mantra for me, as I have a strong tendency toward all-or-nothing thinking.

Since I’ve started my daily habit, I rarely have more than an hour or two each day of focused writing time. This is because I still like a clean home, my family still wants meals, and my kids still want a mom and not YouTube raising them.

However, in the beginning, when I was deeply afraid my drive to stay consistent would fizzle, I can still see myself typing in the middle of the day and snapping at anyone who wanted my attention. It was done in an effort to satisfy that beastly insecurity whispering, “It’s never going to be good enough anyway, so just stop now.”  

After staring down that fear for a while, I concluded that I wasn’t willing to “do me” at all cost.  

Solution? When I set a writing hour that begins only after my children are in bed, that stress began to ease on its own.

So far, only the increase of my written pages keeps that tendency in check for me, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the way it should be. If I start to feel like I’ll never get anywhere, I just look at how far writing at least 1000 words per day has gotten me.

5 – Just do it

You can download all the latest apps to track your word count and join all the great groups in which to discuss being a writer. But no matter how many articles on writing you read, or books you inhale, or even how often you beat yourself up about letting another day slip by without opening your computer or lifting a pen – none of that will ever matter if you don’t take the plunge and get started.  

Don’t drag the past with you. Don’t think about how many projects you haven’t finished, how many of your pieces have been rejected, or how many days/months/years it’s been since you’ve written.

Just take a few deep breaths and let today be the day you began your path as a devoted writer.  

How you make it happen is for you to decide. But you’ll thank yourself, today and onward, for being a little more faithful the scribe inside.

Ameenah M. Hassan is an aspiring novelist and book lover currently residing in Ohio. She has a passion for using fiction to shine a light on things often left in the dark. Her writings can be found at A.M. Hassan Writes.

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